GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – A group of 14 Venezuelans who crossed illegally into neighboring Guyana apparently to flee the economic crisis engulfing their country will be deported by the end of the week, Guyanese officials said Tuesday.
Police Chief Seelall Persaud said he was sympathetic to the plight of the migrants but authorities had no choice but to detain them after they were found near the western border.
"We don't have that liberty and latitude not to arrest them on humanitarian grounds," Persaud said. "That is a policy change that government would have to make."
The nine men and five women appeared before a judge Monday and pleaded guilty to entering the country without authorization. One of the Venezuelans, Yineurys Lara, told the court they had no food and had come to Guyana out of desperation.
"Guyanese come over into our country and work freely, so we tried the same thing," the 26-year-old said.
Venezuelans have been leaving their country in increasing numbers amid a crash of the oil-dependent economy that has led to widespread shortages. But most have typically gone to more developed places than Guyana, one of the poorest and least developed in the region.